Wisconsin has a very lengthy history with its people demanding and fighting for fair and equal rights to marry and engage in contenting sexual activity. As early as 1966, the political party then known as the Wisconsin Young Democrats attempted to approve a resolution aborting the restriction on sexual activity between two consenting adults, which is not violating other's rights. As early as 1966! Manplay.com has everything you should know about Wisconsin gay marriage. Read further to learn how Wisconsin became one of the states to embrace gay marriage and gay rights.
In 1966, the Wisconsin Young Democrats attempted to enact a decision which would permit the sexual engagement between two persons of either or any gender given that it was consenting and did not harm anyone's rights in the process. This was the very first time any political organization in the history of United States had done so. While the revolutionary movement was put to rest after some unpleasant accusations from the Republican Governor Warren P. Knowles, it was just one motion in a series of many to come.
More fights toward the freedom to love was on its way when in 1970, several court challenges were issued against the sodomy law in place. A full abolishment was not received, but the issue continued to be pushed until 1977 when the state reclassified acts of sodomy between consenting individuals to be a simple misdemeanor. One small step forward was not enough for the progressive population of Wisconsin. Finally in 1983, the state legalized sexual activity between any two consenting adults.
In 1997, legislation was proposed to the assembly, which was called "statutory endorsement of traditional marriage" by the Family Research Institute. Its attempt to solidify and enforce a traditional marriage was combatted by another proposed legislation, which would support same-sex marriage. The former legislation passed the assembly, but not the senate and while the proposed legislation for gay marriage rights did not receive any vote from either chambers, it was clear by the lack of support toward the definition of traditional marriage that the support toward equality rights was present not only in the public but also in the office as well.
A bill proposed in 2003 banning gay marriage was introduced to the assembly. It was approved, and more narrowly approved by the Senate. Proving the overruling support of equality in the office however, the law was vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle in November 2003. The Assembly failed to override the Governor's veto. Gay marriage was not yet legal in Wisconsin, but at least the State still did not have a firm ban against it.
During this heated time for gay politics, some claimed that gay marriage performed outside of Wisconsin state was an infringement on the marriage evasion law found in Wisconsin's constitution. The accountability of this law pertaining to same-sex marriages as opposed to marriages performed with individuals too young to marry within the state urged a state constitutional amendment.
On March 2004, the assembly approved an amendment which would define that not only is marriage a union between one man and one woman within the Wisconsin state, but that legal marriage or partnership status obtained outside of Wisconsin is not legally recognized within the state. The amendment continued through the legalization progress until it appeared on a statewide ballot in the 2006 general election. Voters approved of the amendment by a small margin. A sad day for gay rights, but the fight for freedom was far from over.
Between Governor Jim Doyle's proposal for same-sex domestic partnerships and a lawsuit filed by William McConkey against the 2006 amendment (known as Wisconsin Referendum 1), equality for LGBT and gay rights was on the rise again.
In the case of McConkey v. Van Hollen, McConkey challenged the Referendum, which banned both marriage and civil rights within the state and from being legally recognized when performed outside the state. The case was built on the fact that the Wisconsin Referendum 1 violated the state law as it proposed more than one question on a ballet, which was illegal as per the Wisconsin Constitution. While the case ended in a vote which found the ballot proposal valid, it reignited public awareness on gay marriage laws and matters.
By the time 2009 came around, Governor Jim Doyle once again showed his support for gay marriage and gay rights. He brought legislation to the assembly, which would permit same-sex couples to be recognized as legal domestic partnerships. The legislation passed the assembly on June 13th and the Senate passed the law on June 29th. Domestic partnerships became fully legal in Wisconsin State on August 3rd.
The legalization of domestic partnerships was a huge step toward the inevitable legalization of gay marriage in Wisconsin. It allotted same-sex couples 43 rights and protections as well as over 1,138 federal-level protections. As the bureaucratic opinions on gay marriage and gay rights were becoming more and more supportive, some more conservative organizations attempted to fight back.
Before the domestic partnership law even took effect in Wisconsin, several members of the Wisconsin Family Action sought declaration from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin stating that the new domestic partnership law was unconstitutional on the ground that it defied the state's Marriage Protection Amendment. The Court refused to take the case. The WFA (Wisconsin Family Action) filed with the Dane County Court in 2010.
In 2011, Governor Scott Walker withdrew the State's defence on the domestic partnership law, but advocates from Fair Wisconsin defended the registry along with aid from Lambda Legal. Later in 2011, Judge Dan Moeser from Dane County Court ruled the law did not violate state constitution. In 2012, the ruling was affirmed by a three-judge panel from the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
The fight for gay marriage rights finally came to a head in 2014. It began with the case known as Wolf v. Walker. The American Civil Liberties Union along with the Mayer Brown law firm filed a suit against the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on behalf of four same sex couples. It challenged the state ban on gay marriage and on punishments for gay marriage obtained outside the Wisconsin state. The case named Governor Scott Walker their primary defendant along with several other officials.
Barbara Crabb, the U.S. District Judge, ruled on June 6th that the state’s legislation against same-sex marriages interfere with a fundamental right to marry and violate the due process clause of the American Constitution. Restriction on same sex marriage also violated the 14th Amendment of equal protection.
While no order to enforce the statement had been enacted yet, several county clerks began issuing gay marriage licenses. In June of 2014, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen threatened legal action against the clerks. The state appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but with an unanimous decision backed by Judge Richard Posner, the case was not heard. The Attorney General asked the Supreme Court to consider the case and was denied. Finally gay marriage was made legal in Wisconsin on October 7th, 2014.
Same-sex couples began marrying after the District Court and Seventh Circuit Court issued its mandates.
Support for gay marriage from Wisconsin's people was always incredibly high.
In 2011, A Public Policy Poll showed 34% of the people were in favor of legalizing gay marriage, 33% of the people preferred civil unions only, 31% opposed it all together, and 1% of the Wisconsin voters had no opinion.
The same type of polling system revisited Wisconsin voters in 2012. The percentage went up to 39% in favor of marriage, 30% in favor of civil unions, 28 opposing either choice, and 4% unsure.
That same year, Marquette University conducted a survey and found respondents were wildly in favor of gay marriage with 44% of voters supporting it. 28% of Wisconsin voters were in favor of domestic partnerships, but not marriage, a measly 23% opposed any legal recognition altogether. By the time 2013 came around, Marquette University found the number of supporters for gay marriage had jumped up to 53%
In April 2014, the Public Policy Poll found that 43% of Wisconsin voters were in favor of gay marriage, 28% backed legal civil unions, 26% opposed either choice and only 3% were unsure.
Marquette returned to their polling in late 2014 to find an astounding 63% of voters approved legalization of gay marriage and only 30% disapproved.
The Cap Times conducted a survey asking the public if gay marriage legalization had a positive impact, negative impact, or no impact at all. The survey also broke down the votes by demographics: age, gender, nationality, and political stance.
It found that 24% of Democratic voters said gay marriage legalization has had a positive impact, 12% said negative, and 64% said there's been no impact at all. Only 4% of Republican voters said gay marriage legalization had a positive impact on them. 27% said it has been negative and a whopping 70% said there's been no impact at all. Out of the nationality breakdown, age breakdown, and gender breakdown, the majority of votes were cast in 'no effect', proving that gay marriage was not under much of a threat in the future.
Attitudes of the highly devout in Wisconsin are even changing. According to the Public Religion Research institute, more people of faith now support than oppose gay marriage with Buddhists coming in first at 85% in support, Jewish second with 77% in support, and Catholics in third with 60% in support.
Data collected from the Equality Federation and Fair Wisconsin rates Wisconsin's acceptance of LGBT issues to be overall positive. The same data shows approximately 2.8% of the adult population in Wisconsin identify as gay and 16% of same-sex couples are raising children.
Gay marriage in Wisconsin has been legal since a court ruling which ended in 2014. Since then, several protections and rights have been established statewide including a statewide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as discrimination based on sexual orientation included in laws regarding hate speech.
Wisconsin is a surprisingly progressive state in regards to LGTB rights and privileges. With the public support of gay marriage consistently rising and the established support of Wisconsin officials, Wisconsin gay marriage is here to stay.